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Can't afford a modern master? Rent it instead

An art website lets you try before you buy

As a piece of dinner party one-upmanship, nonchalantly pointing out the original Hockney, Ofili or Banksy on the dining room wall takes some beating. For most art lovers this is little more than a dream, given the astronomical prices demanded by galleries and auction houses. But that might be about to change: an online art firm is offering aesthetes of modest means the opportunity to rent creations by superstar artists.

The website, called Rise Art, has recently launched an almost too good to be true scheme allowing people to rent original signed works worth several thousand pounds.

Among some 800 rentals available to take home for as little as £25 a month are works by David Hockney, Peter Blake, Chris Ofili and Hush, the fastest-rising star in urban art. There are plans to add further pieces by Damien Hirst, Banksy and Ai Weiwei.

The Tate, the Serpentine and the renowned Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre have all signed up to the scheme under which they release to Rise Art signed prints exclusively created for them by artists whose exhibitions they have hosted.

Explaining the idea, co-founder Scott Phillips said: "The reason why we started this is that we believe the market is really good for the serious collector, but for people just starting out looking for something for their home it can be intimidating and expensive. We wanted to help anyone on any budget to get hold of incredible, original artworks for their home rather than buying a cheap Ikea poster."

Mr Phillips said the ceiling for most of the art to rent was £50 or less a month. And if customers purchase the artwork within a month they get 100 per cent of the rental fees they paid out deducted from the cost.

"The service allows you to try out a work of art in your home before you commit to buying it," said Mr Phillips. "A piece might look nice in a gallery under those flattering lights and on white walls, but is it going to look as great over your fireplace or your sofa?"

Mr Phillips and his partner, Marcos Steverlynck, were able to start the rental service – which is the first of its kind in Europe – by teaming up with some of Britain's leading art galleries.

"For the galleries this is a way to expand their collection base from markets which have previously been mainly London based," said Mr Phillips. "We have 25 gallery partners at the moment, but we hope eventually to get 100 partners and the inventory that these galleries have includes almost every big artist."

However, the 35-year-old entrepreneur stressed that up-and-coming artists are also featured prominently on the site and can be just as popular as established names.

"People come searching for the big names but then, through our recommendations, they end up renting something entirely different," he said.


G Girl

The Japanese artist is considered one of the world's most technically gifted urban artists. The 2009 edition has 150 prints, is on sale for £140, and can be rented for £35 a month.


Siren in Motion

The print was created this year as part a 150-edition collection. Each print has been signed by the artist in the lower right-hand corner. They sell for £550 each but can be rented from Rise Art for £45 per month.

Chris Ofili

Siesta of the Soul

Created by the Turner Prize winner for the Tate after his 2010 show. The edition was produced in a run of 500 signed prints. It is for sale for £405 and can be rented for £45 a month.

Takashi Murakami

Jelly Fish Eyes

An original edition from the Japanese painter who is one of the top-grossing artists in the world. The print can be bought for £1,800 and rented for £99 per month.

Takashi Murakami

And Then and Then a nd Rust Red

It was produced by the artist in 2006 as part of a collection of 300 limited-edition prints. It is worth £1,900 and is available to rent for £99 per month.